PARIS — As if getting less than 5 percent of votes wasn’t humiliating enough!
Eight of the 12 candidates in the first round of the presidential election failed to reach the 5 percent vote threshold for campaign reimbursement and several are now appealing to voters for financial support.
“The financial situation of my campaign is critical,” Les Républicains’ candidate Valerie Pécresse told reporters Monday after she bagged just 4.8 percent of votes on Sunday. “I am personally indebted to the tune of €5 million,” she added while admitting her campaign owed €7 million in total.
“I urgently need your help before 15 May to secure the financing of my presidential campaign,” she said, adding that she was starting a crowdfunding campaign — and appealed to “all those who are attached to political pluralism” for their support.
Election spending in France is tightly regulated — with first-round presidential candidates unable to spend more than €16.85 million. The state reimburses those who win over 5 percent of the vote up to about €8 million. For those scoring under this, the government only helps to the tune of around €800,000.
Yannick Jadot, the Green candidate, has adopted similar tactics to Pécresse. Up until April 2, his campaign had spent almost €2.2 million. He scored just 4.6 percent in the first round.
The party “needs your financial support to continue its essential fights,” he said Sunday night in his concession speech to a dejected crowd. “I ask you to access the ‘Support Ecologists’ site to make a donation.”
Such strategies are not unprecedented.
After the 2012 election, Nicolas Sarkozy called on activists to support him with his debts — and quickly raised more than €11 million to pay for his campaign expenses.
The total campaign spending figures for the other candidates who scored poorly Sunday — from hard-right Nicolas Dupont-Aignan to the hard-left Nathalie Arthaud — are unknown, despite repeated pleas from NGOs for more transparency. They have also so far not made pleas for financial help.
Meanwhile, even though the Socialists got their lowest ever score — winning 1.8 percent of the vote — their campaign was self-financed. “There is no debt to be reimbursed,” said the party’s first secretary Olivier Faure, adding that “there is no bankruptcy as many would have liked.”
Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen — who scored 27.8 percent and 23.1 percent respectively Sunday — will go head-to-head in the second round on April 24.